Monday, December 15, 2008

Fast Talking and Persistence

What can you do that others can't? My special skill is fast talking. Some people open their mouths and beautiful singing comes out. I open mine and words pour out at an amazing, yet understandable, speed.

How do you make the most of your special skill? Is it just for fun, or can you make some money with it?

More than 15 years ago, I was on America's Funniest People. They were at Planter's 'Americas Funniest Nut' auditions. I'd put together a high speed history of the peanut. While many auditionees couldn't take the peanuts out of their auditions (they were dressed as peanuts, etc), I could talk fast about anything. So they videotaped me. The head writer of an original musical revue I'd been in for several years happened to see the program, and started having me do a short fast talking skit in the show. Over the years I did a high speed traffic report, voice messaging system, summation of the millenium, in the Gore-Bush election a review of hanging chad developments (challenging, because my lines changed every day) and in 2007 asked presidential candidates how they could help the US (including a line about what they'd do if the country plunged into a depression. Hmmm.)

Many times during an audition, a casting person reads the special skills section of my resume and asks me to do a sample fast talk. It still surprises me that people are so entertained, but they always laugh out loud and ask how I learned to do it, saying, "You should do legal tags," or something similar. I even auditioned for Joe Sedelmaier, the director of that famous Federal Express spot with the fast-talking guy. He said I was great but he didn't need any more fast talkers.

I have had other non-paying fast talker roles. When I played one of Will's six single sisters in The Will Roger Follies, the director asked me to summarize the first act after intermission. I had a small speaking part in a short, sweet film featured on Chicago's public TV station's progam Image Union . I'm about 1 min 15 seconds in HERE, and also about 2 minutes and 10seconds in HERE. (Reality TV fans will note that the kissee after me is Ambre Lake, from Rock of Love.)

Despite getting a lot of mileage out of and having a lot of fun with this special skill, impressing many and making audiences of up to a thousand people to
applaud (often a laugh and two rounds of applause in 45 seconds!), I hadn't earned a penny with my fast talking. Until this week.

One of the voiceover directory sites I'm on had a audition for a speed talker. I read the sample script and included my fast talking voiceover demo. And they hired me! So you never know when continuing to do what you enjoy and are good at will pay off financially.

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